Jack Shit: Just Say Yes

When my daughter Bea was a little girl, she found a seed in a seedless Satsuma, and planted it in a tiny pot on our kitchen windowsill.  She kept the soil moist and, to our delight, a tiny Satsuma tree sprouted.  We nearly lost hope when the little tree was infested with insects, but it hung on.  Through the years, we tried everything we could think of to bring it back to health. We washed it with dish soap to get rid of the bugs, and transplanted it to a bigger pot.  We tried covering the soil with plastic wrap, to keep the bugs away from the leaves.  In desperation, we trimmed it down to almost nothing, but it came back–and so did the bugs.  I half hoped it would die, just to be done with it.

Last summer I set it out on the deck, like a fish thrown back into the water, to sink or swim.  But the little tree liked the fresh air and sunshine, and grew greener and healthier than ever.  I brought it inside before the nights turned cold, and it’s back on the windowsill, perhaps gazing out at the yard and looking forward to warm summer nights.

We live our lives in hope.

Almost everything we do is an act of hope. Big ones and little ones.

Hope is writing this post, even when I couldn’t figure out the new Photobucket last night.  It’s trying a new flavor of yogurt.  It’s getting out of bed each morning.  It’s teaching your child to look both ways when crossing a street.  It’s writing the address of a friend with cancer into your address book—in ink.  Hope is page one of every new book you open.

It’s writing page one of a new manuscript before the last one has sold.  It’s everything from watering a plant to having a baby, from a blind date to getting married.  It’s why Jack planted his magic beans, against all odds and common sense.  Hope was the last most precious thing left to us, when Pandora opened up her box.  It’s more important than love, because as long as we have hope, love might yet grow.

A scientist studying nature vs. nurture put identical twins into separate rooms, one stocked with toys, candy, a real live pony.  The other he put into a room filled with manure.  When he went back to observe, the twin in the room of toys was sitting in the middle of it, crying.  “What’s wrong,” said the scientist.  The child replied, “I just know I’m going to break something and get in trouble.”  The scientist found the other child up to its ears in manure, laughing, leaping about, scooping up handfuls of the stuff and tossing it to one side.  “What are you doing?” asked the scientist.  The child answered, “With all this shit, there’s got to be a pony in here somewhere!”

Who says Jack doesn’t know shit?  Bring on the magic beans!

With all the shit life throws at you, there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere.

All words and images c2013 Naomi Baltuck

Click here for more interpretations of The Weekly Photo Challenge: Hope.

Click for more interpretations of The Island Travelers Weekly Image of Life : The Blessings of Hope, and Jake’s Sunday Post: Hope.


  1. I love your photos and your optimism! But the challenge is deciding what to hope…not in delusion, not in rescue. Perhaps in Life being lively, dynamic, engaging, wonder-full, whatever happens. And perhaps in ourselves becoming better at awareness and responding to Life.

    1. Dear Scilla,
      Yes, we do have to adjust our expectations to our circumstances. My mom, who was widowed in the worst way with seven children, used to say, “You have to look for the bright spots. They’re not always easy to find.” I am no Pollyanna–life is always hard, and much harder for some people than for others. But there is goodness there, too, and if you don’t look for it and focus on that, it could drag you down so quickly. Thank you for your insight, Scilla. I love to hear from you.

      1. I would love to hear your Mom’s story some day. Widow to widow, it’s hard to imagine a “good” way to achieve that status, although there are possible scenarios that might work. Change can be the surest bright spot available. Whatever you’re going through, it’s bound to change.

  2. Reblogged this on ChantelC and commented:
    This… This was so incredibly timely it deserved a reblog. I needed this after the way things have been lately. “And with all the shit life throws at you, there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere.” I’ll keep going until I find the pony underneath. I hope you’ll keep going with me. 🙂

    1. Hi Chantel,
      Thanks for the re-blog. I am so glad that you found this helpful, and I’m so glad you’re hanging in there. Every time you post, it’s an act of hope and faith, an investment in your writing.

  3. Absolutely beautiful post. Seriously, this was just what I needed to hear (see?) as I began to drudge through a difficult chapter of my novel.

    I’m gonna get myself a pile of shit, hop in Scrooge McDuck style, and find me a unicorn!!!!

    Thanks so much for sharing the hope, Naomi. 🙂

    1. Oh, Mike, you really made me smile. Writers have to be crazy to invest so much time and creative energy into projects that may or may not fly. Is there ever a more hopeful lot, and all in the same boat, paddling upstream. But what a ride! And I like the company. Thanks for so much writing.

  4. Uplifting!!! I had a citrus from seeds (grapefruit and orange) my great-nieces and nephews planted. It also grew much healthier outdoors in summer, and had thorns, but never got flowers. If yours does, you can use the trick my mom used on a kumquat that grew for her: use a small paint brush to move pollen from blossom to blossom.

  5. My dad used to say that I could dive into a bucket of shit and come out smelling like a rose. He would laugh and shake his head, but he never got mad about it. Maybe he saw the pony.

  6. I remember once I stuck a stick into the potting soil of a plant so I could use it to help keep the plant upright. The stick sprouted leaves. It had been just an old twig cast away from some tree, looked like nothing special at all. But when it sprouted leaves I thought about the kinds of things you mention here, how there’s life even when something looks dead and worthless.

    1. That is an amazing story! There are legends about Joseph and other historical and religious figures placing a stick or a staff into the ground, and a tree sprouting up from it. You are in good company! thanks for sharing.

  7. I love for my grandkids to help in the gardens. They get dirty and love it, but they also learn. I love Nature.

  8. Well, my goodness if this one didn’t ring true with me. Love the line, “writing the name of someone with cancer in your address book–in ink.” I’ve been working on hope lately. And story about the kid and the pony is one of my mom’s favorites–I”ll forward post to her! Thanks Naomi.

    1. Hi Suzanne,
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Of course, I was thinking of you and Gabrielle and your journey, and also a couple of friends of mine, when I wrote this. Best wishes to you and your family. You set a great example for us all.

  9. just the story of the satsuma seed that fell on fertile ground was heartwarming. Love the way you join all the images together in writing – or is the other way around?!

    1. Hi Laura,
      Thank you for your lovely comment. When I start a post, I might have an idea of what I want to say, but I’m not really sure how it will go, or which photos I will use. I pick more than I will use, write a bit, and then I might have to go back into my photo library to find something more suitable to the direction I’ve taken it. It always seems to work out somehow.

      1. its a most creative way or working and especially interesting for your readers. The true sign of a tale – leading here and there

      2. I’m glad it works. I just have to trust that the story will find its way out eventually! This story began with the satsuma seed, and I had no idea that it was going to end up with magic beans or Jack anything, but the instant I it came to me, I knew it was right, even if I had to use the ‘s’ word.

  10. LOL. I looked twice at the “postmark” when I saw the title on your post. Naomi, I think you know how much I appreciate shit. Glad to see you singing its praises as well. And, Hope is a wonderful thing. If I could I’d attach a picture of the jasmine in bloom outside by bedroom window. A riot of yellow bouffanting over an arbor and trailing across the metal roof of adjacent outbuildings. Hard to be glum when I look or smell that lovely.
    Very nice post. It most definitely flies. 😉

    1. Oh, Nikki, you sure got me on this one! I’d love to see your jasmine–it sounds lovely. Thanks so much for the kind words. And I’m happy to know the post flies (as long as it doesn’t hit the fan!)

  11. That is why I so love reading your posts — they fill me with such optimism and always make me smile. You have a wonderful way with words. A true storyteller. I’m very much hoping to buy your novel immediately it’s published 🙂

    1. Oh, Sarah, you always make me smile, and tonight you made me blush! I can toss words around and make them fall pretty well in the right place, but I am completely in awe of what you do with your poetry and your music. Your superpower is to be able to transform a handful of words into a whole new world, spare and elegant at once. But thank you so much for your generosity. I’ll buy your book and you can buy mine.

  12. Ah, I missed your blog Naomi! Hope, hope, hope…the perfect ending to my internet time! Loved the seed story, loved the shit story and loved the line about hope. You are wonderful!

    Lotsa love (no shit) and warm hope from over here,
    Mary aka “Grace” 😉

    1. Me too! It was all I could do to keep from running up and down the rows. I have half a mind to plant a big circle of sunflowers in my garden this year, and make a giant living sunflower house.

      1. Mmmmm. Maybe I’ll do it, and post the photo–like a fantasy real estate shot of my dream house. Isn’t it nice to be able to make at least one dream come true–hah! with a handful of magic sunflower seeds!

  13. Naomi, this post is a jewel, a treasure, beautifully thought out and expressed, inspired and inspiring. Memorable. I love it. This is the sort of thing I love for “Into the Bardo” … you had said you didn’t know what you did that would fit there.

    So, FYI, I haven’t forgotten about that or your writing challenge. I am doing bare-bones blogging at the moment. A much treasured friend is in the process of a painful death and will probably only be with us for another week.Spending most of my time with her right now … but will be back to my normal involvement in blogging eventually …

    1. Dear Jamie,
      I am so sorry to hear about your friend. She is so fortunate to have you. I wasn’t at all worried, and don’t think twice about it. I am sending soft thoughts to you both.

      1. Thank you! She died on Saturday a.m. I just posted my poem on her today. It was hard. We are all more than a bit traumatized, but mending. It’s so good and healing to see your lovely photographs. I happened upon your website too. Nicely done and what wonderful things you do.

        Be well, dear Naomi.

      2. Dear Jamie,

        I am so sorry for your loss. Your poem was such a powerful piece–it gave me shivers. How fortunate she was to have had not only a true friend brave enough to help her through this last terrible trial, but one with such a tender heart and the vision to see beyond all the horrible hospital trappings to the beauty of her last uplifting and liberating act of will. You must be exhausted, physically and emotionally, Jamie. I hope you are taking good care of yourself. Thinking of you tonight, and sending you tender thoughts.

  14. Naomi, your posts never fail to help me keep life in perspective. I often find that when life stops throwing shit at me, I end up stepping in it anyway!

  15. Ah, lovely, lovely post Naomi….particularly that line about inking a terminally ill friends name in your address book. Thank you for the well deserved rap on my whiny knuckles 🙂

  16. Hello Naomi 🙂 I have enjoyed this post so much. About a year ago I heard a slightly different story about the twins told as a joke :). You have made me laugh again. My best, Paula

  17. A very beautiful post, bringing us hope and love, and a smile too. You are a wonderful story teller. And those pictures were a great pleasure to see.

  18. You always make me smile.

    My dear friend Rapunzel grew a lemon tree from a Tesco value lemon. The tree lived with us in halls and when we got a house together (and is the reason why I bought her a lemon shaped tea bag holding thing – I think that’s what I bought).

    Now she’s back in halls again, and because the tree is simply too big for her tiny room her boyfriend bought her a bonsai tree to love while her parents look after the big lemon tree at home.

  19. I always say that without hope we have nothing. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE your quote, “Everything we do is an act of hope.” I will keep that one close always. Thank you!

  20. Excellent post….I always love reading about hope and all its different forms….and seriously, I have to work that line in a conversation tomorrow…..hmmm…. “with all this shit, there has to be a pony in there somewhere!”

    1. Thank you! That’s a keeper–one of those extremely useful little punchlines that I think to myself, or even say aloud in the right company, and the right situation.

  21. I just revisited this today- and the image that came to me after reading about the hopeful planting of a seed by your child was when Denise made an elaborate leprechaun trap for St. Patrick’s Day one year and was so confident that THIS would be the year that she was successful in trapping her very own pot of gold -finally- after many unsuccessful years- outfitted it with food, a comfy bed and tiny handmade clothes. She said, “He’s going to be in there all night so I want him to be comfortable!” If that isn’t hope, I don’t know what is! 🙂 I’m going to try to remember that! It is important to never lose hope.

    1. Dear Sue,
      That is such a sweet story! And it doesn’t hurt to help hope along with a little water and sunshine whenever possible. As for leprechauns, sometimes just knowing they are there is enough.

  22. Love this one. I do know Jack s**t. . . . I just planted a bunch of Half Moon Bay pumpkin seeds. We shall see if the current El Nino rains help the seeds germinate and in the late summer or early fall, jumbo pumpkins grow. Ooooooo.

  23. I hooted when I read the title, Naomi. Never understood the American usage of the term until now. Better go looking for that pony! Oh … and you forgot to mention the subsequent 4 ft Yellow Hibiscus growing in the bedroom – more optimism made visible. Love ya. M

    1. Giddyup, girl! Good luck with that pony! You really made me smile, Meg. I have my own private prompter! You are one of the few followers of this blog who has actually slept with that little satsuma, and know its roommate by name (Hibiscus!). They’re both still going strong! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts–had to laugh out loud. I love you, too, Meg!

  24. Great post. Loved this line “with all this shit, there’s gotta be a pony in there somewhere!” I’ll keep looking for my pony then. 🙂

    1. Thank yo so much for the visit, and for sharing your generous response. I followed the link back to your blog, and really enjoyed your post–especially that very first photo! I have my fingers crossed for you!

  25. You are so right, if we didn’t have hope there would be no reason to go on. Especially these days, when I feel like the shit just keeps gettinhg deeper. Must be a really big horse, never mind a pony.

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